Play It Safe! Before You Bet, Read This
Would you willingly give your credit card number to an illegal, overseas business? Millions of Americans do just that when they patronize offshore sportsbooks, which offer no consumer protections, and may not even pay out when you win. Learn to play it safe during Responsible Gaming Education Week, September 14-18.
For decades, Americans who wanted to bet on sports had to visit the few places where the bets were legal, like Las Vegas, go to a local bookmaker, or place their wagers through an illegal, offshore sportsbook.
Not so these days. Sports betting is now legal in 18 U.S. states. And with a few exceptions—Utah, Idaho and Wisconsin—every other state in the union has a sports betting bill in the pipeline.
So why are Americans are still confused about legal versus illegal sportsbooks?
Actually, it would be surprising if they weren’t confused.
Illegal sportsbooks, based in places like Malta, Curacao and Costa Rica, seem to advertise with impunity online. Their ads pop up on legitimate-looking websites that purport to list legal U.S. sports betting providers. Even media outlets like the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and ESPN have inadvertently promoted their services.
“People are able to find, access and bet on sites that look licensed and regulated,” Casey Clark, senior vice president of strategic communications for the American Gaming Association told iGamingPlayer. In reality, these sites “are preying on consumers,” enticing them to turn over personal information including credit card numbers, with no guarantee that their information will be kept confidential, or that they’ll be paid if they win.
Offshore sportsbooks pay zero taxes and create no U.S. jobs. Illegal bookies offer none of the consumer protections of the legal market, and may, in fact, covertly subsidize criminal activity.
Talk about a losing bet.
It’s easy to get the facts. The AGA offers an up-to-date, interactive map of legal jurisdictions and sportsbooks—https://www.americangaming.org/research/state-gaming-map/— and has set aside September 14-18 as Responsible Gaming Education Week.
“It’s always a good time to remind people where they can bet legally, with the protections of the legal market,” said Clark. In 2020, that message may be more important than ever, with the rapid expansion of the legal market, the return of pro sports after a months-long drought, and Covid-19, which has caused many sports bettors to shift to mobile wagers.
‘Have a Game Plan, Bet Responsibly’
The AGA’s campaign, called “Have a Game Plan, Bet Responsibly,” includes four tips to help keep gambling safe and fun:
- Set a budget and stick to it
- Keep it social: play with friends, family, and colleagues
- Be informed: learn the details of the games you’re playing
- Play with trusted licensed, regulated operators
“With programs like these, we have a game plan to educate consumers, let them know where they can safely play and be paid if they win,” said Clark. “It’s about everybody working together to get this right.”
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